Pelicans look to bounce back against Pistons after listless effort against Kings
The Detroit Pistons might just be what the ailing New Orleans Pelicans need to help fix their losing malady.
The Pelicans (16-25) enter Friday’s game in Detroit having lost nine of their past 10 games, all since forward Ryan Anderson was injured Dec. 3 with two herniated discs in his neck.
Moreso, New Orleans is coming off one of its poorest performances in a loss Tuesday night to lowly Sacramento in which Kings veteran small forward Rudy Gay took advantage of the Pelicans’ lackluster effort by scoring a career-tying 41 points.
The game featured an uncharacteristic showing by Pelicans second-year standout power forward Anthony Davis, who shot just 4-of-12 in scoring 16 points and grabbed just six rebounds, although he did block four shots.
Davis is averaging 20.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and an NBA-leading 3.0 blocks. Although the short-handed Pelicans were playing the second of away-home back-to-back games, Davis took the blame for the loss and said he wants to bounce back.
“I didn’t get going, and we didn’t get going,” he said. “It started with me. But we had a great practice (Thursday), and that’s how you bounce back.”
Said coach Monty Williams: “I’m sure he wishes he would have shot the ball better and defended. No one on our team had great energy.”
The Pistons (17-25) know what that’s like. They had one such performance in losing to the Milwaukee Bucks, who at 8-33 are perhaps the worst team in the league.
Point guard Brandon Jennings implied the Pistons overlooked the Bucks, his former team, in the teams’ game Wednesday in Milwaukee. “No matter what their record is, that’s still an NBA team over there,” Jennings said.
Coach Maurice Cheeks found his team’s lack of hustle disturbing, noting a big disparity in losing “50-50 balls” to the Bucks.
“Those were the difference in the game,” he said.
The loss was the ninth in the past 12 games by the Pistons, including six of seven at home. Small forward Josh Smith, who some say is a culprit in the team’s lack of spirit because of his penchant for poor shot selection, said the Pistons are the “worst team in the league.” Reserve power forward Charlie Villanueva tweeted after the game that “It’s inevitable. Change is needed.”
New Orleans has won the past three games against the Pistons, including 111-106 overtime victory on Dec. 11 at New Orleans Arena.
However, Anderson and Jason Smith, the stars of that game with 22 points each, are both injured, as well as point guard Jrue Holiday.
Davis missed the first game with a broken hand. Despite the Pistons’ woes, he reminded that the Pistons are a dangerous team with a formidable front-line duo in New Orleanian Greg Monroe and power forward Andre Drummond, who is in his second year. The Pistons continue to lead the league in points in the paint at 51.7 per game.
Davis said that duo is of chief concern, even though the Bucks outrebounded the Pistons 45-40.
“If you don’t rebound, you will be on SportsCenter,” Davis said. “Drummond can definitely go upstairs, a great rebounder. So is ‘G’ (Monroe). So, it’s going to be a great battle down low, a physical battle.
“That’s what we prepared for (Thursday in practice).”
The baffling Pistons have shown they are certainly capable of a physical battle. They won on the road against Miami and Indiana, the two best teams in the Eastern Conference and who have a combined home record of 37-4.
The Pelicans had the day off Wednesday from practice to rest and get ready.
“We have to come out with a lot of energy, running the floor, rebounding, boxing out,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a fun game. It’s going to be tough, and hopefully we can bounce back from that loss the other night.”
The Pelicans waived point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who was obtained Tuesday from the Brooklyn Nets for cash, reportedly, and the rights to Bosnian center Edin Bavcic, who was drafted in 2006 but has played his entire career in Europe. “We did a deal we thought would benefit the organization,” Williams said. “I can’t talk about those particulars, but it’s really good for us. But we just felt like it wasn’t a good fit, and we just released (Taylor) so he could go somewhere else if somebody else wanted to pick him up.”